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Tax Dope Trade, Alderman Suggests(aye yi yi)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 8:10 am    Post subject: Tax Dope Trade, Alderman Suggests(aye yi yi) Reply with quote

Tax The Dope Trade, Alderman Suggests
Posted by CN Staff on October 22, 2004 at 08:03:13 PT
By Fran Spielman, City Hall Reporter
Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Just when you thought Mayor Daley's menu of tax increases included just about every item under the sun, a Northwest Side alderman has another novel idea that's certain to raise eyebrows: slap cigarette-style tax stamps on narcotics.
Ald. Ted Matlak (32nd) wants to make it perfectly clear that he is not in favor of legalizing marijuana or any other drugs. He simply wants the city to make money off the drug activity that does exist.

By hitting drug dealers and their customers where it hurts -- in their wallets -- he's also hoping to send a message loud and clear: Don't pollute Chicago neighborhoods.

"If you're a suburbanite and you get hit with a gigantic penalty from the city for buying narcotics and the word gets around that the guy down the street had a big problem, maybe they won't be coming into these neighborhoods to buy drugs anymore. It's a law enforcement tool as well as a revenue generator," Matlak said.

"Say you're a social drug user. If you come in and [buy drugs from] an undercover officer, we'll file criminal charges and all that. Then, we'll look at them and say, 'OK, where's your thousand dollar tax stamp?' Same as cigarettes. Now, we have a civil liability against you for buying something that doesn't have tax stamps on it."

The precise cost of the narcotics tax stamps is still being researched. Matlak would only say that it would be levied against the buyer and the seller -- whoever is caught -- and that it would be based on the amount of drugs in that person's possession.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that Wentworth Sgt. Tom Donegan is pushing a plan to ticket people caught with small amounts of marijuana -- anywhere from $250 for 10 grams of pot to $1,000 for 20 to 30 grams -- because he's fed up with making arrests, only to have judges dismiss the charges.

Donegan estimated the financially strapped city budget could have raked in $5 million in fines in 2003 alone by ticketing marijuana users.

Mayor Daley promptly embraced the idea, arguing it makes little sense to keep piling up arrests for marijuana use when "99 percent" of the cases are dismissed. Judges apparently have so little regard for the cases, many defendants don't even bother showing up in court, he said.

The mayor flatly denied the idea was tantamount to decriminalizing marijuana use.

"It's decriminalized now. They throw all the cases out,'' he said, referring to the courts.

Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said City Hall is still researching Donegan's idea. She had not heard about Matlak's even more controversial approach.

Matlak said the two ideas are not mutually exclusive. They can work in tandem to generate revenue and discourage drug activity.

"I'm in favor of that, too," he said. "Instead of taking somebody with a small amount of narcotics and tying up jail space and police officers. Every time you arrest somebody, they have to process it. I'd rather see them out there fighting crime, than being tied up on smaller cases."

Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Author: Fran Spielman, City Hall Reporter
Published: October 22, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Sun-Times Co.

Related Articles & Web Sites:

Decrim Watch

Illinois NORML

Area Police Use Local Law in Marijuana Cases

Sanity In Chicago

Chicago Wants Laissez-Faire Approach To MJ
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Mystic Power
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sheer insanity.

"We won't legalize it, but we will tax it. Thank you."

Brightest Blissings on all who honor the Sacred Herb...that which is called the Healer of Nations, Bodies, Minds and Spirits.
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